Saturday, May 9

Good morning church,

Would you believe it, there was a little patch of frozen water on my deck this morning, – pretty unusual for May 9! After a mild winter, we are getting some late frosts. I am attaching for you the picture of our Mother’s Day gift for you, for all of you. You can pick it up tomorrow morning at our drive-through at church between 11:00 a.m. and 12:00 noon. During this time of prolonged social distancing, we want to give people an opportunity to see their church and see some familiar faces at least once a month. The Mother’s Day gift is not just for the moms among us. It is for everyone, as we remember the special women in our lives who raised us. The seeds can be put into soil somewhere around your home; they will turn into beautiful flowers. The gift includes a marker. The bag comes with seeds, a marker, and a nice little sign that you can stick in the ground to remember your mother or grandmother. As we did on Palm Sunday, we ask that you enter from the upper Parking Lot (2nd Street) and exit on the lower Parking Lot (Montgomery Ave). There will also be an opportunity to drop off your church offering. I don’t know how many pictures were directly sent to Lisa M., but I am guessing that we received well over fifty beautiful pictures for our Mother’s Day picture show, our prelude to tomorrow’s service, posted at 9:00 a.m. Enjoy, it’s going to be fun!

In all the major newspapers there are remembrances of the 75th anniversary of the end of WW II. I always pay attention to those historical markers. This year it reminded me of the amazing speed with which my native country recovered from total destruction. I am grateful that Americans were kind and gracious enough to support that major rebuilding project, which also included the rebuilding of a functioning and stable democracy. It was an act of tremendous wisdom and reconciliation instead of revenge, which would have been understandable given the sacrifices that were made. I am pretty sure that none of the people who were left in ruins could have hoped for such an outcome at the time. And now, in this time of uncertainty, job losses and recession, it reminds me that communities can recover pretty quickly if we all work together. I was born 22 years after the end of that war and while my family wasn’t affluent, we lacked nothing important.

Sadly, yesterday our dear church member and friend Lois G. died. She had lived at the Willow Court Personal Care Facility in Springhouse Estates. A few weeks ago she had been diagnosed with COVID 19, but her symptoms were very mild and she later tested negative. Lois died of health complications that she had endured for a number of years. The sad part is that everybody was so isolated during this time. Her three children were able to visit with her once last week as her health visibly declined, which provided at least some comfort. Lois was a great lady. She sang in our church choir for many years with her beautiful soprano voice. She was married to Pastor Fred G. for over sixty years; he went home to the Lord last year. She missed him terribly and I can still remember her calling him “Frederic!” (It usually meant he was in trouble.) There will be a graveside service for family only next Saturday, May 16, in the cemetery of former Zion Lutheran Church in Flourtown. Fred was pastor of that church for a long time. Lois leaves behind her three children – Lisa, Kirsten and Ethan, several grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. She was 87 years old. May she rest in peace!        

I want to thank MaryAnn L.  She sent me a small bag with home-made cloth masks, crosses featured on them, in light blue for hope. They are much better than what we had at home. Thank you, Maryann, that was very thoughtful and helpful!

Today is the birthday of Annaliese C. Happy birthday, Annie!!!

Later today, at 1:00 p.m. we will have our first-ever virtual new member orientation. Here is the Zoom invitation:

I hope today will be as nice as it looks right now.

Be blessed and be safe! Pastor Andreas Wagner

Friday, May 8

Good morning church,

Next week it will be two months since the strict quarantine rules in Pennsylvania were put in place, and the time seems to get long and looonger, conceiving a looonging for togetherness. No doubt, this is not easy. It makes me think of that segment of our population that is permanently relegated to the sidelines and often goes unnoticed, except for their closest family members and friends and maybe a note at the end of a church bulletin. We call them “home-bound” members of the church, those elderly folks who can no longer safely attend church, who receive our bulletins and sermons via mail, and who often have a visitation deacon assigned to them. I always rejected the word “shut-ins” as too negative. It sounds like you are a prisoner, right? Well, this experience of prolonged social isolation is teaching me that the term speaks the truth much more than I was ready to admit!!! We as a society feel and sense for the first time in a long time what it must be like to be so restricted in your personal freedom and we don’t like the feeling. Today I would like to introduce to you another one of our home-bound members (or shut-ins, if you like). I know that’s how Dave feels, – shut-in – no longer able to do some of his very favorite things…

Meet Dave G., shown on the attached picture with his grand-daughter Molly from Tennessee. The photo was probably taken last year when the girls visited grandma and grandpa in Pennsylvania.  Dave and his wife Susan live on the outskirts of North Wales Borough, which means they are really close to the church because North Wales Borough is tiny. They joined St. Peter’s some eight years ago (I am guessing) because it was so close and convenient and, understandably, they liked the community and the friendliness of the people.  Dave was born on one of the nearby farms that are now developments and has always been an outdoors person. In  his professional life he developed a topsoil business and ran that until he retired and sold it. One of his very best friends was the late Bob K. who is fondly remembered among our long-time church members. Bob was another local businessman who did much for the church and the community. Well, these days, Dave suffers from Parkinson’s disease. He has one of those chair lifts attached to the stairs that brings him up to his bedroom in the evening and back down in the late morning. He has to be extremely careful getting up and taking steps because falls are the enemy of elderly people and especially Parkinson’s patients. Dave has a wonderfully dry sense of humor and tries to take everything in stride. He is also very grateful for the love and care of his wife. “I can’t complain, I am still on the green side!” is a quip he frequently shares. But this is also true: no more fishing; no more lawnmower rides; no more nature walks. Hey, at least he can watch the birds and the deer and sometimes a fox from the windows of his home. Perhaps during this time of quarantine, some of you will find the time to send him a card. I am sure he would appreciate it. Dave’s deacon is John M. Dave’s address is:  contact the church office.

Speaking of sending cards… Oswilla M. wrote the following note of deep appreciation:  “Lilia was surprised and delighted with the notes and cards she received as a result of your prayer request. I read to her what you had written in the email.  She was very moved.  We both appreciate the support the St. Peter’s family has provided over the years.” Let us continue to pray for Lilia as she tries to find healing, liberation, and a positive path forward!!! She is still “shut-in” at the youth shelter in Eagleville. And Pam D. wrote, in appreciation of our prayers for her husband Bill, now in cancer treatment: “Bill is doing well. He’s well into the routine of daily radiation as well as once a week chemotherapy. Only minor side-effects so far. He hits a wall around 4-5 p.m. each day- prayers directed to that time slot would be greatly appreciated! I’m doing my job of keeping his weight up with lots of pasta and milkshakes!!! 😋 Our thanks to all of you!!!! ❤️”  So Pam, no pasta and milkshakes for the rest of us, o.k.? We are trying to hold our waistlines!

I have attached for you a second document, a PDF of an article that appeared in the New York Times two days ago, sent to me by our friend Erika W. Those of you who enjoy literature will appreciate this piece. It is a reflection by Rodrigo Garcia, the son of the famous and late Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia-Marquez. It’s been four years since his famous father died and the son wonders what his dad, the writer, would have made of this pandemic. Garcia-Marquez frequently set his fiction in times of plagues and epidemics, ultimately showing the resiliency of the human species and the characters he so aptly describes. One of his most famous books was “Love in the Time of Cholera.”  As I said, if you like literature, you will most likely enjoy reading this. Thank you for forwarding it to me, Erika!

Thank you, people, for all the wonderful, fantastic Mother’s Day pictures that I have received and enjoyed. That picture show on Sunday will be a blast and will be seen many times, I am sure.  It will be part of our Mother’s Day Service, the great prelude. If you wanted to send us a Mother’s Day picture, you have to hurry now, because 4:00 p.m. today is the cut-off time.  Also, please don’t forget that we have our food drive for Manna today between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Lee H. will be there with his shiny red pick-up truck. He has a cover, in case it rains.

May 6 was not only the birthday of Nicky G.o but also her sister Rita.

They are twins!

Be safe and be blessed! Pastor Andreas Wagner

Thursday, May 7

Dear church,

Today is the National Day of Prayer, and we might as well join in prayers for our country and for our world, especially at this time. I looked up the history of this observance, which is a pretty interesting anomaly within the context of the separation of church and state. I know that people feel differently about it, but I personally don’t mind that this separation of church and state is every once in a while softened – showing us all that those demarcation lines are not set in concrete, making a wall out of a separation line. I didn’t mind it when Republican Senator Stuart Greenleaf Sr. asked me to pray on the PA Senate floor a few years ago to offer an Invocation Prayer at the beginning of the Senate session. And I didn’t mind it when, as a young city pastor with a German accent even thicker than it is now (believe it or not!!!), black Democratic city council member Marion Tasco asked me to do the same thing at the beginning of the Philadelphia city council session. A young council president named John Street gave me the instructions. Those are moments when the worlds of religion and politics touch, and I personally think it’s a good thing. Today, let us say prayers for the leaders and the people of our country. May we find ways to become less partisan and less rude and crude in expressing our differences. May we find ways to honor truth and seek the very best for our communities. May we find ways to listen to one another, to agree or disagree peacefully. In other words: may we become supporters of our democracy who are inspired by true Christian values!  And may our leaders on all levels find ways to guide us safely through the health crisis that has impacted our lives so severely! Lord, have mercy!   

“The National Day of Prayer is a day of religious observance in the United States of America in which people are called upon to pray for their country. The first official day of prayer in the U.S. was in 1775, when the Continental Congress called for the public to fast and pray for the leadership of the Colonies. After that time, Presidents periodically called the nation to pray during times of war or other hardships. In 1952, Conrad Hilton and Senator Frank Carlson of Kansas initiated a bill calling for the President to designate one day a year as a National Day of Prayer. In 1952, President Harry Truman signed a joint resolution into law; the original wording reads as follows: ‘Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the President shall set aside and proclaim a suitable day each year, other than a Sunday, as a National Day of Prayer, on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.
Approved April 17, 1952.’”

In our congregation, we may still be in lock-down, but we are not locked down. For example, we are beginning a new Prayer Ministry in our church. I have been talking about such a ministry with our council members over the last few weeks. It had always been on my mind, but these times of crisis, as well as a more acute awareness of all the hardships people are experiencing (thanks to so many phone calls) brought it to the forefront. I think this is a great time to start a prayer ministry. And so we will begin with a starter group of eight people next week who will pray intensely and faithfully for the various people who have asked us to bring them before God. They will receive a brief narrative about the person they pray for, along with contact information; various people from the group will follow up from time to time to give us updates. We will share with the congregation when we feel that our prayers were answered so that everyone can participate in the joy. Our starter group consists of the following people. Tom and Kathy A., Anita B. (coordinator), Susan D., Stephanie D., Sally N., Pam P., and Linda S. I call this the starter group because, after a short period of establishing the workings of this ministry, we will open it up to anyone who is interested to join the Prayer Ministry. It is not meant to be an exclusive group at all. The more prayers, the better! Next Wednesday we will have our first gathering via Zoom. Attached is a description of the ministry of you are interested.

We had our council meeting last night, mainly talking about potential re-opening scenarios. I wanted to clarify one thing: the timing of the re-opening will certainly be in alignment with governor Wolf’s plan, which means it will happen no sooner than when we are “upgraded” to the yellow phase. Even during that phase church gatherings will be severely restricted. Our council has a pretty good idea what church under those conditions will look like, but as you know, the devil is in the details, and our document/plan will take another two weeks to fully develop. Lots of things need to be considered. It’s a pain in the…, no! I shouldn’t say that!      

I am really looking forward to this Sunday’s service with a wonderful picture show of so many pictures of mothers brought forth by our people. As per Lisa, I have to set the deadline for sending pictures on Friday, 4:00 p.m.  That allows her to work on it and have it ready on time.  Also, I don’t want to confuse you, but tomorrow is the last day when we collect food for Manna on Main Street on a Friday, as always between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.  This time it will be Lee Honeywell’s shiny red pick-up truck parked in our parking lot. Please place your bags and donations on his flatbed.  By next week, we will move food donations to Wednesdays, same time, with Lisa’s pick-up truck back in action. Our community-wide food collection, supported by various local churches will take place on the last weekend in May.  More about that next week!

I totally forgot that YESTERDAY was Nicky G.’s birthday. Happy birthday, Nicky!!!

Thank you all for your faithfulness and responses during these unusual times. We are being tested as a church and so far you are up for the challenge!

Thank God.

Be safe and be well! Pastor Andreas Wagner

Wednesday, May 6

Good morning church,

Here she is, Isabelle M., just a few months ago during her exchange program on the other side of the globe, happy as can be. Isabelle is one of our current college students. When the corona virus is not wreaking havoc, she is attending Ithica College in Upstate New York. Coming to St. Peter’s in 2007, I remember Isabelle and her older brother Stuart as Sunday School students, young children growing up at church. I instructed Isabelle in First Holy Communion and in Confirmation Classes. She sang in our Girl’s Ensemble. And now, well, she has become a young woman. Like so many others, she is working online college courses at home these days. But in Isabelle’s case, the trip home from college was a little bit farther. She spent the winter semester in Christchurch, New Zealand, and her mom (Amy) told me repeatedly that she had “the time of her life.” Her parents had intentions to visit her in March and had to cancel their trip when you-know-what happened. Isabelle’s journey home was wrought with nervousness on the part of her parents and her grandmother Ginny B., who, I am sure, said many prayers during that time. Isabelle came home safely, probably on an almost empty plane, I am guessing. She feels very lucky that she was able to do this just before international travel shut down almost completely. She writes:            

“I am very fortunate to have spent part of this semester abroad in Christchurch, New Zealand at the University of Canterbury. Due to the unforeseen circumstances, I arrived back home on March 29. Since then, I have been completing my classes asynchronously online. Although this isn’t the most ideal format, I am grateful to be continuing my studies and connecting with friends I met while abroad!

The two months I spent exploring the beautiful country of New Zealand were unforgettable. I was able to grow tremendously as a person by stepping outside of my comfort zone. Meeting people from all over the world, trying a variety of unique foods, enjoying the warm weather, and experiencing new teaching styles are a few of the many highlights from my trip. Some of my favorite memories include hiking in Sumner and Tekapo and kayaking in Kaikoura.”

Isabelle is also the one who said to her mom upon returning, “What, we can’t even go to church now???” Well, as I mentioned to you repeatedly, we are working on a re-opening concept and it will probably begin after Memorial Day weekend and be much different than what we are all used to. Yesterday I spoke to Jane S., who is coordinating activities for our neighbor parish, St. Rose of Lima and is a wonderful neighbor of Diane Z. Jane shared with me experiences of large Catholic parishes in other parts of the country who have some re-opening experience now. Some of those parishes have eight or nine masses on a Sunday in order to abide by social distancing rules and accommodate all the people. We will not have that many services of course, but it will require some flexibility and resilience on the part of all of us, of all the people of our church. I am confident that we will manage these times and more than that…

This morning I prayed over a verse from Isaiah 42: 16: “I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground.” It occurred to me that this scripture passage doesn’t tell us to get the heck out of the darkness and into the light as fast as we can, but it says that God’s light will meet us IN the darkness.  And it doesn’t tell us to run from the rough places in life, but it tells us that God turns those rough places into level ground.  I think we are just beginning to learn those spiritual lessons at this time; and in many ways these unusual conditions are more conducive to experiencing God than the “normal” times that we wish back. I am going to lead a virtual Basic Session on this very topic; we had it on our program for March and it fell victim to the closings. The session is called “Learning to Walk in the Dark,”  and is based on a book by Barbara Brown Taylor. Brown-Taylor’s suggestions are more relevant now than ever before. We will have this virtual session on Friday night, June 5 at 7:00 p.m. Also, soon I will include again a small calendar of upcoming events in my emails, so that we all have some things to look forward to…      

I received this note from Phyllis Byrne, our own North Wales local historian, who enjoyed hearing the bell of St. Peter’s in the attachment video yesterday. Our church bell is exactly 137 years old and still sounds great, doesn’t she? Phyllis writes:

I am sorry I missed the newscast of the bell ringing.  I hope some of the bell listeners were aware of the great history of St. Peter’s bell, facts you may recall from my book. You might remember that the bell tolling on Sunday was cast in 1883 at North Wales’ own Durrin Bell Foundry.  It was the town’s timepiece, ringing every morning from the cupola of Prof. Brunner’s 1872 North Wales Academy, formerly on Pennsylvania Ave. behind today’s library. When that institution closed, the Brunner family donated the venerable bell for use in St. Peter’s newly remodeled steeple in 1903. There it has remained. I remember watching the bell’s rope being pulled at church services… Again, many thanks for all your inspiring messages and pictures. They surely are helping many to cope with the current crisis.” 

Attached is also the material for tomorrow’s noon Bible study about Galatians 1. Contact the church for Zoom invitation.

A few updates: 

  • I received well over 30 Mother’s Day pictures now and Lisa is happily feeding them into a fancy software program down in Texas. It will be very nice. Keep them coming!
  • We will collect food for Manna on Main Street this Friday between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. as we have done over the last few weeks. Starting next week, we will switch the date to Wednesdays. That is because Manna will be closed every other Friday for cleaning and they don’t have as much weekend staff.
  • Our council will convene tonight at 6:00 p.m. via Zoom.
  • We have seven participants for Saturday’s virtual new member orientation

Please pray for all those who are grieving and mourning during these difficult times, including “Little Joe” H., who lost his mom at the age of 87.  He was her only child. Joe is a resident of the Lamb Foundation, and he misses the church community terribly. I talked to him the other day and the death of his mom was confirmed by the Director of the Lamb Foundation. Choir members have reached out to him and have shown him kindness. Thank you all!

Be blessed and be well!

Pastor Andreas Wagner

Tuesday, May 5

Good morning church,

Attached, please find a very brief recording of the bell ringing this past Sunday. I am thinking we are going to use it again for our recorded service next Sunday. The tolls of St. Peter’s old bell even made it into the NBC 10 evening news and the following morning news as well, – pretty cool. And the bell ringer, Bernie H., wrote: “I used to have 34” length sleeve. After ringing that bell continuously for three minutes, they have lengthened to 38”!!!”  Well, fortunately we won’t see Bernie’s arms sticking out of his shirt sleeves for a while, but I sincerely hope SOON. My hope is to re-open church after the Memorial Day Weekend. Council will convene again this week and we are coming up with a plan for all the various things we have to think off: safe seating areas, communion procedures, unexpected guests, possible use of the Fellowship Hall as overflow, a service or two in the great outdoors, cleaning procedures, small musical ensembles instead of big choirs, etc. This is and has been all along a time to be creative and think outside of the box.  Didn’t God ask us to be that way in the first place?

Jesus once used a metaphor to get across a point he made about the vibrancy and newness of the gospel. He said, “No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins and the wine is lost, and the skins as well. But one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.” (Mark 2:22)  – See an image of wineskins in the attached picture… – This means, not always are the old ways of doing things fit for the new things that are fermenting before our eyes. We live in a time when new ways of being church are in the fermenting process, when different ideas are more than ever considered, when reaching people where they are is a primary goal. The old steeple bell ringing in a church that was founded by colonial people in the year of the birth of our country, and the recordings and streaming of services to the world wide web – none of that is a contradiction. I believe that Christ has always brought together old and new in ingenious ways. And so, we will find new vessels for that unruly substance that is God’s ever-creative Spirit in the life of our church!          

Since our bell ringer worked so hard on Sunday night, let me also share with you the meaning behind the bell ringing. As you read it, take a moment to join in the prayers and acknowledgments even today, two days later. Crises have a way of uniting people, and the joint bell ringing across various parts of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was a sign of unity in the face of a crisis we all face together…    


  • The first minute is in honor of the “hometown heroes”: the first responders, health care workers, pharmacists, grocery store employees and other essential workers who continue to serve their communities while risking exposure to the virus.
  • The second minute is for elected officials and residents of municipalities across the state, who are fighting COVID-19 together on one battlefield.
  • The third minute is a demonstration of camaraderie, a “collective resolve” that Pennsylvanians will prevail and bring the state back to life again when the pandemic subsides.

We have lots of wonderful ideas for this coming Sunday.  I have so far received about 24 Mother’s Day pictures. Please keep them coming! It will be great fun to watch this picture show. As part of the Sunday service we will light and bless our new Paschal Candle, donated by Mari D. and her family. We will also include a virtual Holy Communion. As you watch this coming Sunday’s service, please set before you in your home a table with bread and wine or grape juice. If you don’t have wine or grape juice, use water, just for these extraordinary times.  As the elements will be blessed and consecrated in the recording, pray along and consider your elements to be blessed in the same manner by the infinite reach of God’s spirit who breaks through the barriers of time and space. Have communion together with your family, as much as that is possible. If you have small children, bless them! From 11:00 until 12:00 noon we will have a drive-through at church with little Mother’s Day gifts that you can receive either as a mom or in honor of your mom, whichever applies to you, and whichever you prefer. Part of the small package will be flower seeds that you can sow in your garden. There will also be a container for your church offerings to save you the mailing.                

Here is a brief synopsis of meetings this week via Zoom (Z).

  • May 5: Staff Meeting, 12:00 noon (Z)
  • May 5: Adult Faith Formation Team, 6:00 p.m. (Z)
  • May 5: Youth Group, 7:00 p.m. (Z)
  • May 6: Adult Faith Course I, 2:00 p.m. (Z)  
  • May 6: Council Meeting, 6:00 p.m. (Z)
  • May 7: Bible Study, Galatians 1 (Z)
  • May 8: Food Collection, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • May 9: New Member Orientation, 1:00 p.m. (Z)
  • May 10: Mother’s Day Sunday Service with drive-through

Please keep Lisa and James Miller and especially his brother Doug in your prayers. Doug has not much longer to live, at least as per medical diagnosis. Lisa writes that he has aged incredibly since she saw him last at the 2017 wedding.  James has already fixed two cars and done some other things around his brother’s house, helpful as always. In addition, Lisa is still working remotely on church projects. I wonder whether we have someone in our congregation who could provide a pick-up truck or large vehicle for the food donations on Friday and transport them to Manna on Main Street.  Please let me know, because otherwise we may have to ask folks to hold it until the following week. 

Be blessed and be safe today.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Pastor Andreas Wagner

Monday, May 4

Good morning church,

It is May 4th and my favorite time of year begins just about now. I love the spring and early summer by far the most, the time when everything begins to bloom and grow, and when the days grow long.  If only at some point we could come together again, it would be even nicer!  We spoke about possible church re-opening scenarios in June at our late morning zoom meeting yesterday.  I expect that for quite some time we will have live church services with limited numbers of people that we will also stream and record for others to enjoy. Some call it a “hybrid” church service. In the course of this month we will publish some guidelines for those “hybrid” times, as we take careful steps out of our ark on land that is not quite dry yet… Please keep in mind that guidelines mean just that – guide – lines, helping us to navigate a new (interim) situation.

Today are the birthdays of Cathy S. and Aiden C. We wish them both a wonderful birthday and many blessings!

Today is also the Baptism Day of Ellie Spaid (Baker). I believe it’s her sixth Baptism Day.  Get the Baptismal Candle out, Emily and Mark! I will call later to give her a blessing over the phone.

This morning I meditated over the following passage from Luke 14: 23 “Go out into the roads and lanes and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled.” What occurred to me is the importance of those outside lanes!!! The people who come to church from a non-church background, who find that “treasure hidden in the field” (Matthew 13:44), are often people who speak about their faith in most authentic, personable and passionate ways. One of my favorite modern day saints grew up in a non-religious family. Dorothy Day, the 20th century founder of the Catholic Worker movement, a prolific writer, a compassionate servant, a courageous leader, was not at all raised in a church. Her father was a racetrack beat writer who enjoyed the bottle and life in those rough surroundings. Dorothy herself considered religion and rejected it. She did not want to be a hypocrite she wrote in her diary. For much of her young adult life she hung out with the “cool crowd,” – writers, bohemians, anarchists, radicals – and where else but in Greenwich Village, New York? The desire to find God, the spiritual thirst, the seeker mentality came from the inside. Deep inside something was wondering and wandering. She followed that instinct, and over the years it changed her life, it made her whole, and it led her to become one of the most important Christian voices of the 20th century. Certainly, in my irrelevant opinion, she was more important than some of the popes of that century.

I can also attest to the importance of “outside entry” in my own experience as a pastor. Mia W. shared her story with us several times. She grew up in the Lambertville area, not entirely in a non-religious environment, but with influences that didn’t make sense to her. She had some experience with Jehovah’s Witnesses and some with Catholic masses she attended with her grandmother. None of it really stirred her. She came one Christmas Eve out of a mysterious desire to be in church. I visited her and her husband afterwards and we had a long conversation. She attended an adult faith course a few years later and got baptized as an adult along with her son Phoenix. Today she shares the gift of music, she helps us frequently with our on-line services, both as a singer and a speaker, and she is one of the people in our congregation who frequently speaks to others who don’t have that inside experience, sharing her experience with church. (“It’s not what you think! They are really cool people! They even have a weird German Pastor!)

Other examples: many of you remember April F., who moved with her young family to Wisconsin a number of years ago. She had not a lick of church exposure growing up, as opposed to her husband  Robert who was raised in a Lutheran church in Delaware. But it was April who was actually more drawn to St. Peter’s, interested, wanting to get involved. One time when I visited them, Robert said with a twinkle in his eye, “Pastor, she will get involved in everything at church. You will see.”  (We still miss them!) Or, get this, our friend Bernie H. told me that he did not go to church growing up. Can you imagine? Today I cannot think of anyone being more comfortable reading in church and projecting the voice of God… I am sure there are more people in our church community who had a similar experience of “outside entry.” In the next few weeks I will conduct an online Adult Faith Course (the same one that Mia attended), and one of the participants is Bryan A. who is training to become a Stephen Minister and is on the road to getting baptized at the very same time. It’s so important, so very important, that we remain a church that invites and embraces those who come from different backgrounds.  They often “get” the gospel in a different way. (End of sermon)

I have received many more wonderful Mother’s Day pictures from you. Keep them coming. It will be great fun!

For today, Please join me again in prayer for Billy K. I shared his story a few weeks ago, but basically nothing has given him much improvement yet. He is still getting up more than 15 times a night due to bladder issues, and they still haven’t found a way to improve his situation. More doctor’s visits, more evaluations, more trials… Some of you know how it is. Those persistent, chronic issues are the worst. They totally downgrade your quality of life and everything, including prayer and including things you typically enjoy, turn into major efforts. Prayers for healing and blessing for Bill K!!!

Have a great day.

Be blessed and be safe!

Pastor Andreas Wagner

Sunday, May 3

Good morning church,

For the eighth Sunday in a row I am sending you the words of our virtual church service so you can follow us from home. The pre-recorded service will be posted at 9:00 a.m. this morning on our website and Facebook page. It is another beautiful collaboration of various church members, including the Flanagan family trio, the Karin Clark one-woman-show on the bell tree, the virtual jazz room, the Shaffer family, Mia and her son Phoenix, as well as the people you see every week… Enjoy!  

This Sunday is called Good Shepherd Sunday, and it makes me think of all the shepherds and caretakers during these times, especially those who serve in hospitals and Nursing Homes, and most especially those who minister to the sick and dying on designated COVID floors in our area hospitals. The stress on them has been enormous. I am thinking of all the shepherds who work for our educational institutions trying to educate their “flock” with less than ideal tools, especially the many teachers of young elementary students and kindergarten.  I am thinking of the young parents juggling work and child-care. We have so many good shepherds in our community, but today’s focus is on THE GOOD SHEPHERD,” the one who died and rose for us, who breaks through our quarantine doors and brings us peace that transcends understanding. What good is a “GOOD SHEPHERD” if he (she) doesn’t lead and  guide us through a crisis? So let us listen this morning, let us take in words, wisdom, guidance and insight from scripture!

Thank you for sending me many more Mother’s Day pictures yesterday.  Some of them are even “era” photos and great fun to look at. Keep them coming throughout the week and we will make a beautiful picture show for next Sunday, Mother’s Day.

Tonight at 7:00 p.m. we will join communities across the state of Pennsylvania to salute and bless our first responders, nurses, doctors and all who work on the frontlines of fighting the pandemic. Church bells and fire sirens will join in a sound of thanksgiving across the commonwealth. And St. Peter’s old bell will join the music. I hope the fire hall down the street doesn’t drown us out.

I would like to thank you again for your wonderful support in the month of April, allowing us to close the deficit incurred in late March at the beginning of this quarantine time. Please continue your offering support, it is crucial. (This is my once-a-week Sunday reminder…) Many of you are sending in the good old envelopes. But this online button also works and has seen an increase in use. Thank you all!!!

Finally, I’d like to see you later this morning at our Zoom Church Gathering at 11:00 a.m. I’d like to talk about “Virtual Holy Communion” for next Sunday and possible re-opening scenarios.  I also really, really would like to see you. Join us at 11:00 a.m.!

Be safe and be well!

Pastor Andreas Wagner

Saturday, May 2

Good morning church,

I will keep it short today. This is a day that calls for being outside, and I hope you all get the opportunity for walks or rides in the outdoors on what promises to be a very nice day. Thank you for sending me pictures of your mothers. I have received four pictures so far. Of course we will need a lot more… They don’t need to be portrait pictures. It could be a shot with other people in it. We will assemble them and put them together in a picture show for next Sunday, May 10, Mother’s Day. I must say, one of the most memorable Mother’s Day services for me personally was a few years ago when I invited a mother and daughter from our church to talk about their joint journey fighting cancer. Both were diagnosed with an aggressive stage four cancer less than a year apart, which was a major shock and the challenge of a lifetime. Amazingly, both Betty W. and Christine H. recovered, Betty with a number of organs less, removed in order to save her life. Needless to say, the Walters are hyper-careful these days because they would certainly belong to the at-risk population. Yet, Christine and Betty’s story of recovery from this devastating double diagnosis is an inspiration to me still. As are the pictures that Christine posted at the time with the funniest wigs and hairdo’s that she could find to make her family and especially her young boys laugh! It is amazing how sometimes the people who are suffering are the true providers of hope, isn’t it? So, I certainly will ask Christine and Betty to be part of our Mother’s Day picture show, and I will ask Christine to send us one of her most colorful wigs of that time! I spoke to Betty and Dick Walter a while ago, and they are doing well and are getting supplies from other family members. 

I mentioned yesterday that we would also like to celebrate our graduates in the month of June. So many of them will be quietly celebrating a milestone in their lives.  We would like to help them make this milestone a bit more special. So, our Director of Family Faith Formation is asking all graduates of this year, whether they are completing preschool, elementary, middle school, High school, college or Vocation School to send her the name of the school they are graduating from, with degree if that applies and the name of the school they may attend next.  Please send Jenn that information along with a nice graduation picture by May 29. Her email is

Tomorrow morning we will post our pre-recorded service a little bit earlier, by 9:00 a.m. You will receive the worship materials as always around 8:30 a.m. via email.  Please also join us  for a virtual church gathering at 11:00 a.m. tomorrow.  I’d like to talk to you about some things and receive feedback about possible re-opening scenarios in June, virtual Holy Communion and other things. Find a comfortable spot in your home with a cup of coffee and join us! Here is the zoom invitation. I know some of you are “zoomed out” already because that’s what you are doing all week long in your professional lives, but I hope you can join us. Here is the invitation:

For today, please join me in prayer for Lisa and James M. as they travel to Texas to visit James’ brother Doug who is in the last stage of his illness.  It was a difficult decision for them to travel down to Houston during these times. Doug came to Lisa and James’ wedding in 2018 and I remember a tall, lanky guy with a huge cowboy hat and boots and the accent to prove where he was from (I know all about accents, your know!). Unfortunately, his health has been in decline ever since, and now his organs are beginning to shut down. Please let us pray for Lisa and James’ safety and for a special and sacred visit with James’ brother Doug, and that God’s peace and presence may surround them at this time. And James, don’t drive too fast, please!

For all of you:

Enjoy this day, be safe and be well!

Pastor Andreas Wagner

Friday, May 1

Good morning church!

First a big thank-you for your faithfulness, care and concern for others. Every Friday we collect food for Manna on Main Street to help those in our community who are struggling to pay their bills and have enough to eat. As you know, unemployment has increased to numbers we haven’t seen in a long time, and the local food banks have seen quadrupled demand. We will collect food items again today between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.  Thank heavens, the skies seem to be all rained out (for now!) and you can place your bags on Lisa’s pickup truck, backseat or loading flat. Lisa says that your response on Fridays has been amazing! I am actually in conversation with folks from St. Rose of Lima and potentially other local congregations for a community-wide food donation day. I asked George Peterman, one of the Social Ministry leaders at St. Rose, whether we could do it on a Friday in May. The idea (which came from our friends at St. Rose) is that we not only ask people in our respective congregations to contribute but also our neighbors and friends. People of Faith are always among the most charitable givers (I don’t make this up, it’s based on actual data!), but I think there are many more people in our respective communities who can help and are willing to help. Stay tuned, I should have more details by next week. 

What I know already is this: your giving in April was amazing, allowing us to make up for the deficit we had in late March when we first had to adjust to closed church buildings and virtual services. Thank you for allowing us to close that gap, do ministry, and support our hard-working staff!  What I also know is this: this coming Sunday our church will participate in a community-wide ringing of the bells in honor of all first responders and medical workers on the frontlines of the pandemic. The bells will be ringing at 7:00 p.m., and as I understand it, not only in North Wales but also in adjacent communities such as Lansdale, Ambler, etc. If you have a key to the church and you know how to “work the ropes” (literally!) of our antique church bell, and you would like to ring it at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday night, please let me know. Otherwise, I will be happy to do it.

I am missing you! Pre-recording services and speaking a message into a camera is not the same as being engaged in a live worship service, seeing faces, seeing reactions, feeling the atmosphere… A number of churches use a live zoom format, which allows for more interaction but is also vulnerable to pranksters.  The Church of the Brethren uses the format, and they had to shut down three intruders last Sunday. Fortunately, Pastor Enten is very technology savvy and the church was ready to take action. Our practice of pre-recording and posting allows us to be free of such interference. But: I am missing you! So, for this Sunday I would like to invite you to join me in a Zoom Gathering at 11:00 a.m.  Have your coffee and your snacks ready. We will spend some time together and I have a few things I want to talk to you about. I will share my thoughts about including a virtual Holy Communion the following Sunday (May 10) and how that will work. I will also share some of our thoughts regarding re-opening the church building in a few weeks. I hope you can join us. Please contact the church for links.        

For the upcoming weeks, I would like to introduce you to the experiences of our college students who are, almost all of them, studying and staying at home during this time instead of being on campus.  I will reach out to them and ask them to share some of their experiences. Isn’t it fascinating that, while we are “socially distanced” (do you hate that word by now?), we can actually get to know one another more than before? That’s why I am adding in portraits of our homebound members and soon also of our confirmation students and college students. I have one college student at home. Sarah was happily living the college life in her second semester at Kenyon College in Ohio when she came home for spring break and never went back because by mid-March the college switched to on-line lessons. She is missing her friends and has been talking to them, writing to them.  Of course, it’s nice for us to have her home… Meanwhile, she has taught herself how to play the guitar and has been busy singing and writing songs. She very much hopes she can go back to college in September. You know, it’s not THAT cool to be home!

Today, I invite you to pray with me for our parishioners and the other residents at Springhouse Estate.  I mentioned to you that Louis G. was diagnosed with COVID 19. She had only mild symptoms and has since recovered. The prolonged time of isolation, however, has had a toll on her health and wellbeing. Already pretty fragile and dealing with a chronic bone marrow disease, her family is now transferring her to Hospice Care as per doctor’s recommendation. Lois is 87 years old. She has lived a long and interesting life.  And under normal circumstances, I would feel that this is a necessary step not to be afraid of. But hospice without visits from your family? Without prayers from your pastor? Hospice in isolation? I feel very badly about that. I have another friend whom I visit frequently at the same building at Spring House Estates. His name is Albert K., and he grew up in my former parish, Tabor Lutheran in Philadelphia. Albert has Parkinson’s disease and he too was recently diagnosed with COVID 19. So far he has been a-symptomatic and is doing well.  Please pray for Lois, Albert, and all the people working at the Skilled Nursing Care facility at Springhouse Estate. It has to be tough, and I wish I could go and see them.

Last but not least:  Today is Jennifer M.’s birthday. Happy birthday, Jenn!

And:  we are planning some very special acknowledgments for our graduates this year, who are in many ways cheated out of their graduation experience…

More about that in tomorrow’s email! And keep sending those pictures of your moms…

Be safe and be well! Pastor Andreas Wagner

Thursday, April 30

Dear church,

Here she is, another one of our nonagenarians – Florence U., who has been living in the vicinity of the church (on 5th Street) for more than half a century. Until about four or five years ago you would find Florence in church every Sunday. She is now in her mid-nineties and going… because the longevity genes run strong in her family. Her mother died at the age of 103, and Florence hasn’t had many health issues to deal with over the years. What a blessing that is!  She has other blessings that she never fails to acknowledge. One of them is her daughter Susan who lives nearby and checks on her mother every single day, as well as a son in the Lancaster area and grandchildren. Then there is the blessing of a sound mind and the ability to remember and have conversations with people. Florence is perfectly lucid; she sometimes forgets things of course, but that ought to be forgiven a person who sees her own century mark on the horizon. These days, Florence has a visitation deacon from our church, Cindy Hoagey, who was able to get me this picture via Florence’s daughter. Visitation is a ministry we enjoy and take seriously. Over the years I have visited her many times and I have to tell you, it’s one of the perks of being a pastor. I get to hear stories from our elderly members! Florence’s memories go all the way back to Philadelphia where she grew up in a neighborhood that I would later become acquainted with as a pastor (many decades later), Olney. She remembers meeting her husband at one of those dances that were popular in the wake of WW II as “boys” were shipped overseas, and she was one of the “girls” exchanging letters with her love overseas. When they settled in the area, her husband was a school teacher with focus on physical education, but he had to teach pretty much every subject in the days before the schools became hyper-professionalized. It was a busy but not a hectic lifestyle is what I have gleaned from her descriptions. She has definitely been blessed in so many ways, and she knows it. I would like to take this opportunity during these long quarantine weeks to introduce you to some of our elderly and homebound members, many of whom had quite interesting lives. I imagine many of you only see a name on a Sunday program under the rubric “homebound members,” but no idea who that person is.  So here you go…  This is Florence. We send her our greetings today!

A church is always a mixed community of friends, of people you may recognize and of people you don’t know at all. At St. Peter’s we have established a culture where people feel comfortable, accepted, and part of a greater whole. You don’t have to be friends with everybody. But you also don’t need to hold back in your involvement if you are new to the community. Your opinion and your gifts are just as much appreciated as the ones from people who have been part of the church for many years. In fact, since you are new and look at things with fresh eyes, in some cases your take on things may be especially important… At least, that’s how I look at it, that’s what I teach and encourage, and I think you can feel that in our gatherings. We are a church of sinners and saints (Luther’s expression) and the demarcation line between sinner and saint runs through every single soul in our church. People may think the pastor is more of a saint, but my family knows better and most of you do as well. People may be tempted to look at people as they struggle with problems, but God encourages us to see their potential. We are a wonderfully imperfect church and the Holy Spirit is at work among us with the ability to bring us together in spirit even in times like these.  We will get through this!  And we will have a virtual new member orientation on Saturday, May 9 from 1-3 p.m. If you are interested in participating, please let me know.     

Here is a reminder for our weekly Bible study, today at noon. The material is attached again. We will study the final chapter of Paul’s letter to the Philippians and will decide which book we want to tackle next.  Join the Zoom Bible study via the following link:

For this coming Sunday, we are busy recording lots of great music again, this time with the Flanagan trio (Gretchen, Megan, and Cassidy), a Jazz ensemble, and Karin C. on the Bell Tree.  I think our Director of Bell Music (Liz Allen) must be frustrated because how do you socially distance with a group of bell players??? They rely on listening to one another as they play, gathered around a table… The bell tree is one of the few things we can safely do at the moment in terms of bell music. So, enjoy!  We are also, as I mentioned yesterday, planning to have another drive-through event on Mother’s Day (May 10). Please send us photos and pictures of your mothers. The pictures don’t have to be recent either. They could be from various stages of life. We will accumulate the pictures, morph them into a Mother’s Day picture show, and display them in the background for the recording of the May 10 service. Let the pictures come…

Today is the Baptism Day of Malcolm T. (2017).  Happy Baptism Day, Malcolm. Please remind your parents to light your Baptism candle today!

Please pray with me for our dear friend and church member Helen N. In the midst of this time she was diagnosed (again) with cancer. She doesn’t have all the results yet and the doctors believe it’s not a recurrence of cancer she had seven years ago. But you know, it stinks!  As she and Erik (her husband and personal medical assistant!) go through this new round of tests and chemo-therapy, please pray for them and pray especially for Helen, for her health and for faith and hope in the midst of adversity! 

My nephew Lukas by the way wrote me back yesterday and wants to thank you for your prayers. I will give you an update about little Charlotte in a few weeks when they know more. You prayers are very much appreciated!

And don’t forget: tomorrow between 11:00a.m. and 1:00 p.m. is our weekly food drive for Manna!

Be safe and be blessed!

Pastor Andreas Wagner